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Gold & Crispy Creamy Shrimp and Grit Cakes


Perfect Party Pleaser

This recipe is inspired by a classic Southern favorite, Shrimp and Grits. The ingredients used to season the polenta are flavorful and robust to ensure a satisfying bite with every little shrimp-topped cake. I love a good baking mold, whether silicone or metal, and I have found that preparing the polenta cakes this way allows the edges to become crispy without sacrificing the creamy texture of the polenta. 

Great as a small bite-sized snack, appetizer for a gathering, or a new side dish for your favorite meals, these Crispy Shrimp and Grit Cakes may just become a staple in your kitchen, too.


What is the difference between Grits and Polenta? 

Where most grits can be made with white corn, yellow corn, or hominy and ground from cornmeal mush, Polenta is made purely with yellow corn. Grits, because of their finer ground, tend to become mushy, but Polenta is made with coarser ground corn, a firmer starch center, and a more granular texture. The difference makes for a savory bite that won't become gloppy once baked to a crisp.

How far in advance can I make my Polenta?

I like to prepare my creamy polenta ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator to cool. In all honesty, I tend only to make these tasty cakes with leftovers. One night, it’s creamy polenta with Paprika Chicken or a nice Steak. The next day, it’s this recipe with a side salad or soup.

Do I need a ton of tools to make something so simple?

Not really. You will need a couple of key items though.

  • Wilton, 12 Cavity Brownie Bar Pan (or similar, depending on how many you want to make)

  • 4 Quart Pot

  • Deep Fry Thermometer (if you choose to poach the shrimp)

Odd, Possibly Inconvenient Ingredients
  • Lobster base

  • Bacon fat

These items are by no means required but do help elevate the flavors of these cakes. The best part about the bacon fat is that you can use the 3-4 slices of bacon you need to create the required amount of fat, crumble them up, and sprinkle the bits over the cakes when they’re done.


Gold & Crispy Creamy Shrimp and Grit Cakes

  • 2 cups Chicken Broth (I personally like to add 1 tsp of Lobster base too, for extra umami flavor!)

  • ½ Heavy Whipping Cream

  • ½  cup Polenta

  • 5 Tbsp butter, divided

  • 4 Tbsp Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided

  • 2 Tbsp Shredded Sharp White Cheddar (crumbled white cheddar is a great substitution here)

  • 2 tsp Cajun Seasoning, divided

  • salt and pepper, to taste

  • If you are making more than 12 cakes, double the recipe as needed

  • 6 Extra Large (16/20) Shrimp (peeled, deveined, and slit in half)

  • 2 tsp Bacon fat

  • Parsley and/or chives for garnish (optional)

Crispy Shrimp and Grits Cakes

Step 1. 

Over Medium-High heat, combine Chicken Stock, Heavy Whipping Cream, and 1 tsp Cajun Seasoning in a 4-qt pot and bring to a boil. 

I prefer a larger pot because it keeps the polenta from spilling over the sides when stirring. There’s a lot of stirring in the next two steps.

stir until ultra creamy
Step 2. 

Once boiling, lower the heat to Medium and stir in the Polenta and 1 Tbsp of butter. Continue to stir constantly with a wooden spoon to prevent the polenta from sticking. If the mixture begins to bubble and/or pop, lower the heat and continue stirring to avoid uneven cooking.  

* Butter makes the grits creamy and helps them crisp up in the oven, so don’t be too shy with it.

Step 3.

Once creamy, stir in 2 Tbsp grated parmesan and white cheddar. You want the mixture to look like a smooth porridge and the grains to be fully saturated, expanding to nearly three times the amount you began with. 

The best way to tell if the mixture is cooked to your satisfaction is to taste it, so give yourself a spoonful, but be careful. Those grits will be scorchingly hot—salt and Pepper to taste.

Step 4.

Once nice and creamy and seasoned to your satisfaction, remove the pot from the heat to cool. 

At this point, you can cool the mixture in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours or overnight.

Step 5.

Preheat oven to 450°. Spray the brownie pan with nonstick cooking spray, and fill each old fully with cooled polenta. 

Step 6.

In a small bowl, melt 1 Tbsp butter and 2 tsp bacon fat in the microwave. Stir in 1 tsp Cajun Seasoning. Pour this mixture over the shrimp and fully coat them. Place the shrimp halves over the polenta squares, top with remaining grated Parmesan, and place the pan in the oven to bake at 450° for 20-25 minutes.

Step 7.

Once the edges of each square have browned nicely, remove the pan from the oven and cool for 5-10 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley and/or chives, serve and enjoy!


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